Cinema Viewfinder: Cronenberg Blogathon: Videodrome (1983)

Posted: September 10, 2010 in Scifi
Tags: , , , , , , ,

by Kevin J. Olson

[Kevin J. Olson of Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies is one of the more renowned horror writers online. His brilliant essay is a special treat for those who crave subtext in genre films.]

What is probably one of the most unconventional horror films ever made, David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, is, perhaps, only matched by David Lynch’s Blue Velvet as one of the oddest, most surreal horror experiences I’ve ever seen. Cronenberg’s film is akin to Lynch’s in the sense that both films sit on the fringes of horror (using the prototype of the genre to explicate darker, more postmodern themes that society marginalizes and deems taboo) and really ask us to consider what makes a horror film horrifying. It’s not just the visceral nature of horror, and it’s not just the getting-under-skin ideas at play – it’s a mixture of both. On the surface both films seem to be something else entirely: Lynch’s film is dark, yes, but it’s also comical (mostly ironic in the way a lot of postmodern work is) in the same way Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (another film that stretches the genre) is darkly comical; whereas Videodrome is without laughs. There’s nothing remotely comical about Cronenberg’s exercise, an odd hybrid (as most of his movies are) of science fiction and horror; however, like Blue Velvet, there are deeper questions about sexuality and violence, and the effects those two things have (especially when combined) on society. Videodrome is as displacing a horror film that I’ve seen; a film that plunges the viewer into the depths of sexuality and violence to give us an otherworldly, uncomfortable experience that asks us not what we find objectionable about sex and violence, but how we consider platforms for these oft taboo subjects.

via Cinema Viewfinder: Cronenberg Blogathon: Videodrome (1983).

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